Helping other photographers

10th August 2015
Being a photographer - especially a pro wedding photographer can be a lonely life.
Let me clarify first that by saying "pro photographer" I don't mean to sound better than thou - I mean as in one who earns his or her income from the job of photographer.

These days with the digital world making things so much easier, anyone can pick up a camera and be a photographer, so I just wanted to be clear that being a pro photographer doesn't mean takes better pictures, or has better gear - although in most cases these things can be the case - in reality it should mean that to a degree.

It's in the same way that owning a car - you are a driver, but it doesn't make you a professional driver unless you are a taxi dude :)

As a wedding photographer for all I spend my days working with lots of people during the shoot, the marketing and all the background work is extremely solo. And as soon as you are known as a working pro photographer a lot of people shun away from you that maybe used to ask you advice.

Speaking from personal experience I meet many people every week that I see posting on Social Media websites asking questions about photography, maybe looking for advice, or wanting to know the steps to take to see if they could (or are) be good enough to make some money from photography.

I have a few friends that are very into photography as a hobby, and there has been times when they've said things like ... "I'd love to try my hand at portraits" - but then they instantly go on the back foot and add "oh , I won't take business away from you, just my friends photos and stuff."
No matter how many times I say crack on, do your thing it seems like everyone expects you to not want anyone else to be taking photos to earn money.

Far from it, if you are good enough by all means you SHOULD give it a go. It's a wonderful thing to be paid doing something you love to do.

The whole point of this Blog is to say, my door is always open, well at least sometimes via email, a text, phone call, PM through Facebook and the likes.
If ever I see anyone locally asking for advice via social media I'll always PM my offer of help.
If anyone ever asks questions or how do I do that or how did YOU do that, I'll explain, try to help.

I don't see anyone as competition. Why should I.
I am a wedding photographer with my own style and price point that covers the service I do. Another 10 people on my street could be doing the same and I don't think my bookings would change one bit. Couples book me because of one or more of the following reasons...

*They like my style and look of my photos
*They are happy with the price structure I offer
*The back up and guarantees I offer interest them
*They like me as a person and know they can get on with me

There's probably a few more. I do ask my couples to fill in a small survey after the wedding to get all the feedback I need and this helps me understand why they came to me , and how I can make my service better.

But you see what I mean. Anyone can start up in wedding photography as far as I'm concerned, and they can ask me as many questions as they like. There will be times when I'll honestly say "I don't know" - hey , I never said I know everything ! And there will be times when I'll advise the best way to learn that is to do your thing and learn.

There's no quick and easy route to making a living from this profession. I see people online doing things I was doing 5 years ago and learned from them.

On the downside to all this though, it's very hard for a pro photographer to be involved in local social media groups and offer advice without being asked, as there are always people that will jump on and say stuff like "oh look at Mr Know-it-all telling us what to do".
I've had that myself with people moaning and calling me names for offering advice to try to help people. I know of one other local pro photographer who suffered the exact same thing in the same page.
These days I just watch to see how people are coming along.

It's a shame as I like to gas on about photography. I will always help and offer advice when I can. Too many people go along with the belief they are ready to make lots of money from taking photos as their Facebook friends say their photos are stunning and they get lots of likes, but it's like the folk who can't sing on the X-Factor that have been told by their mum's that they are brilliant.
You need to be learning from someone on the ground that has done what you want to do.
I'm not saying that has to be me - I'm still learning too. But I ask questions all the time. I'm involved with lots of Pro websites & forums and enter lots of competitions and don't win a thing but the feedback and lessons learned are amazing.
I know that the product I'll be offering next year will be a lot better that what I'm offering this year. In the same way that this year's photos are way better than last year's. I spend a few hours every single day tweaking my process and learning.

So ask questions.
Don't think you'll offend someone, or that they'll give you duff info because they don't want competition.
We need more pro photographers in this area. I get LOTS of wedding enquiries for dates I am already booked for and would love to meet more people with a similar style and price range so I can pass on names to couples.
Sometimes I am out of the price range for couples so it would be good for someone with a bit of experience to be offering cheaper packages that I can offer names to.

But it doesn't have to be about "going pro". If you just want to learn, get better, and have more fun taking better pictures... ask questions.
Or maybe you are already taking great photos but don't know how to start selling them.
Perhaps you have the photography part ready, but just need business advice... I've been my own boss since 2002 and would encourage anyone with the skills, determination and business savvy to do it for yourself. But you have to work hard.
Too many people fail in business as they are just not willing to work for the work.

But the area where I live, Dunbar, East Lothian has LOTS of amazing photographers that could earn money from their work.
Some of the photos I see online are amazing. Maybe some people just want to take photos for themselves. That's fine.

But if you're someone that wants to get better, and develop your photography skills, or know how to take the first steps into the world of business and selling your photography... just ask. I do and I learn many things all the time from other photographers. Some are just hobbyists but are great at a certain type of photo.
I'm always humble enough to ask questions, and I feel strongly that other photographers should let others know their tips and advice too. Most are.
We all have areas that we are strong at, and we all have areas where we could do better.

So please feel free to email me, Facebook me etc anytime... as some day soon , I might be asking YOU a question :)

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